Paronychia  : Greek – para (around), onukh (nail)

A  bacterial infection along the side of the nail. The condition presents as a tender inflamed area that will often progress to the formation of a pocket of pus. The condition is more commonly referred to as a ‘whitlow’ and is often associated with, and mistaken for, an ingrowing toenail.

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The condition is more prevalent where the nail is involuted and tends to ‘dig in’ to the adjacent skin. Other predisposing factors include trauma from tight fitting shoes, over zealous pedicure, and any skin condition that breaks the protective barrier that the skin provides e.g. Eczema, Psoriasis, Lichen Planus, Herpes, fungal infection, and blisters. Immuno-compromised patients (Diabetics, patients taking steroids, Methatrexate, NSAI’s etc) are also at higher risk of developing Paronychia.

If the toe is rested then symptoms should subside gradually over the period of a few days. If a pocket of pus develops then we would drain and irrigate the area. Where the infection becomes more established then we would provide antibiotics.

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